The cork industry

The benefits of cork

Through the ages, the cork stopper and its transformation process has contributed to the sustainability and preservation of a unique ecosystem.
However, it is on the larger scale that the humble cork stopper can truly be appreciated:

  • Europe supports 2.2 million hectares (2.7 million football pitches) of cork forest
  • Not only do the forests prevent desertification but they support a rich biodiversity of plants and animals including endangered species such as Bonelli eagles and the Iberian lynx
  • 800 companies operate in the Portuguese cork sector, employing approximately 12,000 workers, responsible for producing approximately 40 million cork stoppers per day (14 billion per year)
  • Cork makes up 2.3% of Portuguese exports total value (823 million euros in 2008)
  • European forests alone retain over 14 million tons of CO2 annually

This last point highlights one of the great aspects of cork production. Price Waterhouse Coopers recently undertook a study into the life cycle of cork stoppers vs aluminium screw caps and plastic closures.

The study, taking into consideration the Carbon Sequestration of the forest, revealed that the production of:

  • One plastic closure releases 15 grammes of CO2
  • One aluminium screw cap releases 37 grammes of CO2
  • One natural cork stopper captures 147 grammes of CO2